18 July 2008


It may be silly, but I'm trying to take advantage of my last name. Mostly just at work--everytime I answer someone's email I sign it "Olivia Juárez", and I make sure to put the accent on the A. I don't know why it's a bigger deal to make sure I do that, now that I only have a few more weeks with the name, but I it is a bigger deal & I do make sure to do it.

I also make sure to pronounce it the fancy way--the 'real way', any time anyone asks. Even though I know I'm just going to have to say it the 'gringo' way to clarify, it still is worth it to me.

I remember sitting on my dad's lap on the game-table chair as we talked about me growing up. He told me I'd become a teenager & I'd hate him. I'd fall for it every time: "No, Papá! I love you! I love you! I love you! I won't be a teenager and I won't hate you!" Those conversations instilled a certain dread to becoming a teen, and it is why I hated it when I did hit those years, and Papá led the family in teasing me, "...it's because she's a teenager now..."

I also remember a similar conversation, also on my dad's lap, when he talked about how one day I'd get married and I wouldn't be a Juárez anymore. That freaked me out just the same, and I'm sure he relished in my reaction. But I also distinctly remember him saying "you don't have to change your name." Which was a confusing surprise, "huh?" "Yeah--nobody's going to make you change your name. You can just tell your husband you want to keep your name." In my child-mind, that kind of meant that I wouldn't be married, but his statements stuck with me through the years, and I seriously considered keeping my treasured Juárez name.

It wasn't until a BYU religion class that I stopped considering the unconventional option. It was a teacher I really respected: he'd grown up as Greek Orthodox, learned about the LDS church as a young adult & converted against his family's wishes. Just before coming to teach at BYU, he'd been living on my mother's old stomping grounds and often had great things to say about the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area, and Stanford. He happened to mention bring up the issue, just on a side-track, that there is a slow-growing trend of the wife not taking the husband's name. I don't even remember what he said exactly but he related how it was a sad diversion from tradition, but also a break in the unity that comes from sharing a family name--perhaps something about a weirdness in the extra-independent-ness of the woman... I'm not sure. But it was then that I realized its deeper symbolism, kind of.

What confirmed my decision, however, was to hear a comment from Ben. We'd never discussed the issue at all. He just brought up randomly one day--not in any super-romantic setting or anything--that as he booked our honeymoon cruise, it kind of hit him that my name would soon be his name. He just said that it was kind of scary--"Oh my gosh, she's taking my name." And he mentioned that it's kind of big thing. That made me realize even more that it really is kind of a big thing. Getting married is huge.

Anyway, bottom line: I'm sad to lose my Juárez. But I'm o-so-sure that I want to be Ben's Knudsen, above any of the other risks or 'scary' factors.


Rebecca said...

So, does Knudsen have an accent on the K? ;)

My parents didn't give me a middle name, so that I could keep my maiden name after I was married and use it as my middle name. Unfortunately, I think that's a dying tradition, because it doesn't work so well for me. Forms used to ask things like "Middle/Maiden Name", but I haven't seen a form like that in quite some time. And sometimes I'm confused about how official my middle/maiden name is. It's official in the sense that my Social Security card has my first, maiden, and married names. And I sign things like mortgage papers with my middle/maiden initial. But when I'm being set apart for a new calling, and the bishop asks my middle name, I don't give him my maiden name. (There's a funny story to go along with that train of thought, but this comment is too wordy already!)

Anyway, it's good that you'll still BE a Juarez (sorry, don't know how to add the accent), even if you will carry a new name. You'll get to be both. You'll be a Juarez because you were born one, and you'll be a Knudsen because it's who you choose to be and who you'll become in that incredible temple ceremony. Speaking of which...I love the announcement! But I'm sad that we won't be around for the celebration! Maybe, maybe, we can figure out how to say a quick hi and give you a congratulatory hug when we're in town, though.

Cambo said...

When I was a kid it kind of bugged me that I didn't get to keep my mom's maiden name because I liked my Rasmussen cousins a lot better than my Williams ones. Haha. I went through a period where I always thought, "When I grow up I'm going to legally change my last name." I'm glad to be a Williams now, so it's all good.

Also, it's a good thing Knudsen is still kind of a cool name. If Ben's last name were Dungball or Buttface something I doubt even Bro. Gaskill would disapprove of keeping the Juárez. (You were talking about Bro. Gaskill, weren't you?)

Manders said...

Olivia Knudsen. I like it!

Benjamin said...

Hey Olivia! Congratulations on being married. I also loved Brother Gaskill—definitely my favorite religion professor of all time. Just thought you should know.

billinrio said...

Hey, why change your name at all? Keep your family name when you are married. Why should you have to take the name of the man you marry?